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Camping vs. Christ

By Yles ~

On September 7, 1994, Harold Camping and his followers sat dressed in their Sunday best, holding their Bibles open-faced towards Heaven as they waited for the return of Christ. Their wait was in vain, as the sun rose on September 8 with no Rapture having occurred. Camping chalked this up to a mathematical error, and moved the date of the Rapture to May 21, 2011; another day that has come and gone without major incident.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13:  Julie Baker walks the ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
As the media storm surrounding Camping’s prediction was beginning to stir, I noticed many of the comments being left on articles were from Christians, ridiculing and chastising Camping’s followers. One article I read mentioned an individual who had been listening to—and believing in—Camping’s Family Radio since before the failed 1994 prediction. While some laughed, some rolled their eyes, and some scolded, the Christian community could not wrap their minds around why someone would continue to follow someone whose prophecies were clearly false.

Personally, my faith began to unravel when I studied Bible verses in which Jesus pointed to the imminence of his return, repeatedly addressing the generation before him and even suggesting that some of the apostles would be alive to witness the Second Coming. No amount of mental gymnastics by apologists could delude me into taking his statements at anything other than face value. Aside from its skewed morals and continuity errors, the Bible itself effectively quoted Jesus as a false prophet. Well over a thousand years have passed; the Apostles, the generation to which he spoke, and many subsequent generations have all come and gone without Jesus’ return. Yet, much like Camping’s follower who remained with him since 1994, millions of Christians all over the globe are able to push aside these clearly erroneous predictions in favor of something more appealing.

One of Camping’s selling points in his May 21 doomsday prophecy was that the Bible guaranteed its veracity. A friend and I sat on Youtube on May 22, watching a pre-Rapture interview with a Camping follower who insists that the May 21 message is written clearly in the Bible. I believe that this man will continue to follow Camping through October, the date on which he claims the world will end, if not beyond that. Not only has he invested time and probably money into raising awareness, he may have left a job, a relationship, his home, or otherwise jeopardized his life’s circumstances for the sake of this prophecy. Many of them will have been so convinced that May 21 was so clearly written into the Bible, giving up on Camping will mean giving up on their faith--something that I doubt any of them are ready for. This, I believe, is also why many Christians ignore the clear false prophecies given by Jesus in the New Testament: if the Bible is untrue, then their entire faith is a lie.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Participants in a movem...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
As someone’s who’s been through that, I know that it is a hard thing to accept. I sat with my Bible open, tears splattering onto the pages as I desperately sought a deeper meaning in Jesus’ words. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me to its proper interpretation. I scoured texts and an array of websites and even wrote to one, but none offered satisfactory answers. It just wasn’t true. I was able to let go, eventually, but I know many Christians wouldn’t.

So the Christians, of all people, should be understanding of the followers that have stayed with Camping since 1994, and those who will persist past October 21. They have more in common than they think.